Storybook Illustrations Grade Level 4th - 6th grade Author Tracy by bjp11375


									Storybook Illustrations
Grade Level: 4th – 6th grade
Author: Tracy Workman

Characteristics of Learners: This lesson is for
 th   th
4 – 6 grade students (9 to 11 years of age).
Students at this age are ready to develop specific
competencies in art and are physically and mentally
able to take on more complex art projects than
younger students. Students at this age should have
had considerable experience with art media and will
have developed many skills in their use. With these
more developed skills, students can better elaborate
on their own ideas and interests in their work. These
students are also interested in a much broader range
of topics than younger children and are becoming
more conceptually sophisticated. Because students are becoming more critical of their own work during
this period, they are receptive to instruction in many technical aspects of art and are motivated to become
skilled in making art that passes their own critical judgment.

Rationale: This lesson explores how artists can be storytellers by illustrating a central moment that
stands for a whole story. When artists depict the most important scene in a story they help the viewer to
understand what they think about that story. When these illustrations are accompanied by text the viewer
gains a deeper understanding of the story, and when they are not, they allow the viewer to develop their
own variant of the story. Both of these allow the artist to communicate in unique ways. In this lesson
students will examine many different types of illustration throughout history and interpret various
illustrations in terms of the stories that they tell. Students will write their own stories and then apply what
they have learned about how central moments can stand for a whole story by
creating their own storybook illustration.

Historical/Cultural Context:
The earliest forms of illustration were prehistoric cave paintings. Before the
invention of the printing press, illuminated manuscripts were hand-illustrated. The
earliest surviving illuminated manuscripts are from the period AD 400 to 600, and
were primarily produced in Europe.

During the 15th century, books illustrated with
woodcut illustrations became available, and during the 16th and 17 centuries
several other printmaking processes were used. Books with pictures for children
were produced as early as the 1400s, but were available to very few. It wasn’t until
the 1600s that children’s illustrated books began. Early chapter books were
illustrated with simple woodcut illustrations and didn’t last long because they were
made from cheap materials, but they allowed many children the opportunity to               A 13th century manuscript
                                                                                           illumination, the earliest
have their own illustrated books. By the 1900s, illustration was a major component         known depiction of Thomas
of popular culture and was seen in newspapers, mass-market magazines, and                  Becket's assassination.
illustrated books around the world. Today, the presence of illustration is even
more visible in our culture and there is a growing interest in collecting and admiring
original artworks that were used as illustrations in books, magazines, posters, etc.
Various museum exhibitions, magazines and art galleries have devoted space to
the illustrators of the past.

Given the broad historical background of stories and storybook illustration, this
lesson could easily be integrated across the curriculum. Illustrations could be
made for specific historical, cultural, or fictional stories from other subject areas.

                                                                                           From The True Tale of Robin
                                                                                           Hood, a woodcut illustration from
Sunshine Standards: Students will: (1) use and organize two-dimensional                    an early chapter book.
and three dimensional media, techniques, tools, and processes to produce works
of art that are derived from personal experience, observation, or imagination; (2) use good craftsmanship
in a variety of two-dimensional and three-dimensional media; and (3) understand that subject matter used
to create unique works of art can come from personal experience, observation, imagination, and themes.

Objectives: By the end of this lesson, students will be able to: (1) interpret various illustrations in
terms of the stories that they tell, (2) write and analyze their own stories to determine which moment is
the pivotal moment in those stories, and (3) demonstrate an understanding of how central moments can
stand for a whole story by creating their own storybook illustration.

Resources and Materials: Slides, posters, transparencies, or digital images of various types of
historical and contemporary illustrations such as the ones presented above and Arthur Rackham, James
Christiansen, Randolph Caldecott etc. Background information from the websites:, and,
and also from the book “A Treasury of the Great Children’s Book Illustrators” by Susan E. Meyer can also
be useful.

You will also need pencils, erasers, sketchbook paper, one piece of 11’ x 14” drawing paper for each
student, writing paper, at least one thin line black marker for each student, a variety of colored pencils,
rulers, one copy of the self-assessment form for each student, and one copy of the grading rubric for each
student to be retained by the teacher.

Narrative Art – art that represents a story or event.
Illustration - a visualization such as a drawing, painting, photograph or other work of art that aims to
elucidate or decorate a story, poem or other textual work, generally by providing a visual representation of
something described in the text.
Illuminated Manuscript - any decorated or illustrated manuscript from the Western or Islamic traditions.

Preparations: Arrange the tables in the classroom so that the students can be seated in groups and
share materials. Prepare materials for drawing activity as necessary and arrange them so that they will
be easily accessible. Prepare a chalkboard, marker board, or large sheet of paper to record student
ideas about what makes a specific part of a story the most important part. For students with special
needs, a familiar story can be illustrated rather than one that they have written themselves. If this will be
needed, prepare copies of familiar tales for these students.

Introduction: (Day 1) Begin the lesson by showing images of several different storybook illustrations
to the class. If possible, have some hung around the classroom throughout the lesson. Ask “What story
do you see in this picture?” for a few different works. Have a classroom discussion on the topic. Present
a short history of illustration with lots of pictures and examples. Explain that some artists can be
storytellers by illustrating a central moment that stands for a whole story. Discuss with the class what
makes a specific part of a story the most important part. Record student ideas on a board so that the
whole class can see. Bring up a few well-known tales and ask which moment is the pivotal moment of
those tales. Explain that the students will be writing their own stories and choosing a central moment to
create a storybook illustration about.

(Step 1) Instruct students to write a short story based on one of the following three topics (or three topics
that you have chosen beforehand):
          1. If I could have one super power, what would it be? And what would I do with it?
          2. One day, I turned into a cat, and then…
          3. One day I went to the strangest place…
Stories should be long enough to have a clear beginning middle and end, a main character, and a climax:
a page or two long. When the stories are completed instruct students to decide which moment in their
story is the most pivotal. That will be the scene that they will draw for their illustration.

Model all of the following steps for the students and walk around the room to assist students who need
(Step 2) Have each student draw a pencil sketch of their illustration in their sketchbooks or on a separate
piece of paper before they begin on their drawing paper. Look at each students sketch before they move
on to their final drawing and make any compositional suggestions that are necessary. When the students
are satisfied with their sketches, they can move on to the next step.

 (Step 3) Have the students draw their illustrations with a pencil on their 11” x 14” drawing paper. Make
reference to storybook illustrations around the room and point out the amount of detail in works by Arthur
Rackham, Randolph Caldecott, or James Christiansen. Encourage the students to take their time and
include lots of detail. Students should also remember to fill the page and include a background. Rulers
should be provided for those that need them.

 (Step 4) When the students have a satisfactory pencil
drawing, it is time to draw the outlines with a thin line
black marker. Point out the outlines on the storybook
illustrations around the room (or however you have them
for display). Notice how some lines are thicker than
others. Closer things usually have thicker lines, and the
main characters or objects might have thicker lines.
These differences in line width should be noticeable but
not huge. Remember to include detail. When the
marker is dry, students should erase their pencil lines.

 (Step 5) Now that the outlines are done, it is time for the
students to color their illustrations. Students should use
colored pencils and should not feel confined to filling in
each shape in their illustration with one flat color. Point          Step 4
out how works by Arthur Rackham or James
Christiansen are colored. Encourage students to draw
patterns and textures with their pencils (like fabric
patterns), add one color over another (like red on the
cheeks), and if they have already had lessons on
shading, students can add shading. Show students the
different effects that can be achieved by coloring lightly
or pushing hard with the pencil. Encourage students to
use these effects to their advantage. The only things
that should be left white on the page should be things
that are intentionally white in color.

Distribution and Clean-Up: If possible, have all
the necessary materials that students will need for the
day’s work on each group’s table before they enter the
class. As an alternative, ask 1 – 2 helpers from each          Step 5
group to collect the materials from a materials station as
they are needed during the lesson. For clean-up,
students should place their materials back where they came from and store their drawing in their portfolio
or wherever else student work is generally stored.

Closure: Allow each student to share his/her illustration with the class and describe what is happening
in their story. If possible display the illustrations for the rest of the school to see along with a neat copy of
the students’ stories. Have students fill out the self-assessment forms and turn them in along with their
preliminary sketches and another copy of their stories.

Assessment: Questions to consider when evaluating students’ learning and performance in this
lesson include: To what extent were students able to interpret storybook illustrations in terms of the
stories that they tell? How successfully did students write and analyze their own stories to determine
which moment is the pivotal moment in those stories? Did students demonstrate an understanding of how
central moments can stand for a whole story by creating their own storybook illustration? Refer to
students’ own self-assessments and worksheets in assessing the outcomes of the lesson. See
attachment for a rubric to assist in assessing the students’ work from this lesson. (You may want to share
this rubric with the students before they begin work on their illustrations).

Extensions: (1) Have students create a series of illustrations for their story. (2) Have students
exchange their illustration with another student in the class and write a new story based on the illustration
that they have now. (3) Have students present these stories to the class. (4) Have students draw a new
illustration based on their new story. (5) Place students in groups and have them create a series of
illustrations for a popular tale or fable. Students in a group should agree on which moment is the pivotal
moment in that story, and make sure that someone in their group illustrates that moment.

Adaptations: For students with an autism spectrum disorder consider having student enter the
classroom once the other students are seated in order to avoid encountering the upheaval and non-
structured “setting-up and beginning” of the class period. In a similar fashion, student could leave a few
minutes early. Additionally, these students should be seated in an area with limited distractions and
visual clutter near a good peer role model. These students could be given a story that they are already
familiar with to illustrate, rather than writing their own since writing can sometimes be time consuming and
difficult for students with autism. This would also allow the student more time to complete their drawing
since they could begin while the other students are writing, and allow the teacher time to demonstrate
concepts for the student as needed.
           It may also be useful to create and use a "Story Board" for outlining the instructional steps. The
teacher will need to break the goals of the lesson into shorter, more precise sections and present the
lesson's concepts in clear concise terms. Repetition of important information will also help (such as
reminding the student frequently or presenting the same information in a number of different ways).
Students with autism may have difficulty interpreting what makes a specific moment in a story the
“central” one; discuss what moment the student intends to draw before they begin. For assessment,
consider removing all but one or two of the assessment criteria so that the student can focus on fewer

Appendix A:

“Illustration,” Wikipedia,

Meyer, Susan E., A Treasury of the Great Children’s Book Illustrators, New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc.,

“Narrative Art,” Artlex Art Dictionary, Delahunt, Michael,,
1996 – 2007

“Narrative Art,” Wikipedia,

“Page by Page: Creating a Children’s Book,” Library and Archives Canada,

“Stories: Narrative Structures in Contemporary Art,” Kunst Nu, Brenner, Birgit; Gaskell, Anna; Harrison,
Rachel; Pettibon, Raymond; Taylor-Wood, Sam,, 2007

Appendix B:
          Rubric for Lesson “Storybook Illustrations”
Criteria      Incomplete                              Satisfactory                       Excellent
Understanding Student’s sketches, notes,              Student’s sketches, notes and      Student’s sketches, notes and
of Concept    and/or illustration did not             illustration display an            illustration display an understanding
                  display an understanding of         understanding of which             of which moment in a story in the
                  which moment in a story is          moment in a story is the most      most central/pivotal and effectively
                  the most central/pivotal            central/pivotal                    communicate the story to the
Understanding Student’s illustration does             Student’s illustration fills the   Student’s illustration fills the page,
of Process    not fill the page, has large            page, does not show                shows little to no extraneous marks,
                  white areas that do not             excessive pencil marks or          has utilized thick and thin lines,
                  belong, shows many                  smudges. Work shows some           shows attention to detail and is
                  preliminary pencil marks            attention to detail and is         thoughtfully colored.
                  and/or has smudges. Thick           thoughtfully colored.
                  and thin lines were not
                  utilized at all. Little attention
                  to detail is apparent.
Time/Effort       Student spent little time/          Student spent class time           Student spent class time working on
                  effort on this project,             working on project. Work           project and applied themselves
                  regularly distracted other          reflects a fair amount of time     consistently. Sketches are
                  students, or turned in              and effort. Sketches               complete and well thought out.
                  sloppy or incomplete work.          attempted.
Writing           Student did not write a             Student wrote a story that was     Student wrote a story with a clear
                  story.                              acceptable for the project.        beginning middle and end, a main
                                                                                         character, and a climax.
Self-             Student did not complete            Student took assessment            Student was thoughtful, critical, and
Evaluation        self-assessment or did not          seriously and was thoughtful.      effectively justified his/her
                  display a thoughtful                                                   reasoning.
                  response to the questions.

Self-Assessment Worksheet
Answer the questions using complete sentences and justify your answers with specific examples or

1. What is good about your work?

2. How could you improve it?

3. Did you effectively represent the story?

4. What did you learn from this lesson?

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